|Click below to listen to the tune "Never Lookin' Back" from The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band's new album, How I Go:
Kenny Wayne Shepherd is back in the spotlight with his new album How I Go
. It’s been seven years since the straight-ahead studio rock record The Place You’re In
was released. With live projects, documentaries, marriage, and fatherhood during the interim, Shepherd is now at the height of his creativity. How I Go
displays the full range of his musical influences mixing Southern rock, heavy rock, blues, and good old rock ’n’ roll. It’s also a buffet of great guitar tones, so PG
caught up with Shepherd to get in deep on the making of How I Go
Congratulations on being a father.
It’s probably the most profound thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. It’s given me a renewed sense of motivation and inspiration to be the best parent I can be, as well as the best musician I can be. I want to give my kids something to be proud of.
How does that affect your craft as a songwriter and guitarist?
I want to set a good example in what I do. Everything I record and the way that I perform, I think, “Would my kids be proud of this? Would this be okay for them to see?” Are they going to grow up and say, “Man, I wish dad would have never done that!” [Laughing
.] That’s where the responsibility comes into my mind in everything that I do.
What took so long to do another studio record?
I had three kids in the past four years, and that really affected my free time for writing and recording. Life has changed a bit, and there are different things going on with new responsibilities. I can’t just leave the house for a few months and go write a record. For this album, we went in the studio for two weeks, tracked the songs, and then a few months went by before we went into the studio again. So we recorded the album over the course of a year. It didn’t take a year to record it, but it was spread out.
What was cool about that is that it enabled me to live with everything. We would track something and I would live with it for like a month. I could listen to it and dissect it, really getting into the ins and outs of the song. Then I’d be able to go back in and know what I needed to do to make it better. Sometimes when you’re making a record, you’re really trying to hurry up and get it out by doing it all right then and there. Later on after the record is out, you go, “Hey, I could have done this a little different!” I really got to live with every one of these songs throughout the making of the record, and really focus on trying to make them as good as they can be.
Your vocals are strong on this record.
I appreciate that. I’m singing “Who’s Going To Catch You Now,” and “Cold,” and doing all the background vocals on everything else. Noah Hunt is such a great vocalist. He has such a different style of voice than I do. Mine is a little more pop rock, and his is way more soulful, bluesy, and southern rock. I’ve wanted to sing more, but I don’t necessarily want all the vocal responsibility in my band because he’s such a great singer. His voice is very much a part of my sound, so it’s kind of evolved into us both doing lead vocals.
I wish I sounded like Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker, but I don’t. I choose the songs where my voice works well and I sing those. For the songs where my voice doesn’t quite cut it, I don’t have a problem having someone else do it. I have standards that I want my music to meet and I want every aspect of my music to be as good as possible. If that means somebody else is doing the singing, then so be it. It doesn’t bother me one bit.